Social media shockwaves erupted following the announcement of a supposed sequel to Harper Lee’s classic debut novel “To Kill A Mockingbird" on Feb. 3. The novel, “Go Set A Watchman,” will be released on July 14 and will tell the story of Scout’s return to New York to visit her father, Atticus Finch.
While the news itself sent fans into a frenzy, several underlying aspects are causing controversy, such as why the novel, which was written in the 1950s, is just now being released and who made the call to release it.
Harper Lee story is extraordinary in lots of ways. Not least: the publisher hasn't spoken directly with the author. http://t.co/DBBnuffDvZ— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) February 3, 2015
In an article by the New York Times, some have expressed concern about Lee’s role in the approval of the release. According to the article, “All of Harper’s communication with Ms. Lee about the new book came through her lawyer, Ms. Carter, and her literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg, including the statement she gave expressing delight that the novel would finally be published, according to Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president and publisher of Harper.”
The article continued to say that Burnham didn’t think speaking directly with Lee was necessary and that she understood the terms of the deal. Though Lee, a known recluse, has yet to speak out on the matter.
Harper Lee "can't see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her”, her late sister, Alice, wrote in 2011: http://t.co/SpYIa2ESc2— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) February 3, 2015
The once considered “long-lost” manuscript for the book was found last fall, according to BBC News, and was attached to an original transcript for “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Supposedly, Lee wrote the now sequel prior to “To Kill A Mockingbird” but was told by her editor to rework some of its sequencing.
Lee, now 88-years-old, said in a statement issued by Harper, “It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became 'To Kill a Mockingbird') from the point of view of the young Scout.”
While resurfaced releases are no new concept, especially in the music industry — Bob Dylan’s recently released “Basement Tapes” stirred up excitement a few months ago — the over 50 year-long gap since Lee’s last release is one of the longest spans of time for a writer to release a new work. However, considering the book was written in the 1950s and is, in some sense, a draft to her Pulitzer Prize winning debut novel, do the decades matter?
For some, such as Ellen DeGeneres, the real question at hand deals less with who granted permission for the release and more with the confusion between a mockingbird and mockingjay. According to a tweet from her official account, she shared her excitement to “read what kind of trouble Katniss gets up to in this one.”
They're publishing the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Exciting! I can’t wait to read what kind of trouble Katniss gets up to in this one.— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 3, 2015
Others, such as musician Amanda Palmer, expressed their inspiration by the release. Though, for a release that is engulfed in so much controversy, how inspiring can it be if Lee is left in the dark?
55 years between books. as a first-time author, this gives me hope. http://t.co/MqLGOlcsUs— Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) February 3, 2015
— Edited by Jordan Fox